Rideshare and Transit Integration

Rideshare and transit integration solves problems associated with single-occupancy vehicle commuting

The negative impacts of commuting in a single-occupancy vehicle extend beyond the environment. Sitting in traffic creates what’s known as an “opportunity cost.” People can’t engage in productive activities when they’re inching their vehicle along a street or freeway.

As such, stakeholders in enterprise-oriented commuter management programs have strong incentives to promote alternatives like rideshare and transit integration. Research shows that such programs support improved productivity as well as increased commuter happiness and overall life satisfaction.
To help give your commuter program a kick-start, here are a few ways you can integrate ridesharing, public transit, and other alternatives into your company’s commuter management plan:

  • Create a multimodal commuting challenge. Build excitement and increase commuter participation by incentivizing your commuting program with a challenge that includes ridesharing, transit, and other smart commute options. Log trips, track miles, and offer prizes to the individuals or teams who lead the pack.
  • Provide smart transportation from origin and destination transit stations. In addition to running vanpool shuttle services between your company and local mass transit stations, you can also provide geo-fenced, prepaid access to services like Lyft and Uber. Offer last-mile connections between destination transit stations and the office, and encourage commuters to carpool for travel from their homes to origin stations.
  • Offer free transit credits to carpoolers. This approach does double duty: it incentivizes ridesharing while encouraging employees to make better use of available public transit options. Create a points program where commuters who carpool a certain number of days per month are eligible for free or subsidized public transit access. 
  • Build a “buddy system.” Facilitate carpooling by matching employees who live close to one another as “commute buddies.” Sometimes, especially in larger companies, people simply aren’t aware that they have co-workers in close proximity who are willing to share rides (and costs). Matching can also be schedule-based, making it easier for people who arrive and depart from work at the same time to buddy up.
  • Set up reduced-rate and preferred parking systems for carpoolers. Offer reduced-rate or free parking to vehicles used in carpools, or give carpoolers privileged access to preferred parking spots or lots.

Remember: ridesharing/carpooling and public transit programs work well together. Integrating them, rather than approaching each program as standalone entities, will help drum up higher participation rates in your smart commuting initiatives.

A cutting-edge commuter management platform like the RideAmigos software suite is ideal for creating and administering effective programs that have a positive impact on your business, and in your community. To learn more about our industry-leading software, please contact us or view our free video demonstration.

Tips From Google For Planning a Successful Bike-to-Work Program

Use this recipe from our friends at Google to build a fantastic bike to work campaign

We were recently joined by Lucy Tice, TDM Program Manager from Google, for a RideAmigos Academy Coffee Talk. Lucy and her colleagues were kind enough to share the recipe they used to get hundreds of Google employees on board with the company’s bike to work program. Now we’re going to pass it along to you!

  1. Create a survey. Find out how many people might potentially be interested in biking to work, how far their commute would be, and how experienced they are with cycling.
  2. Divide into segments. Google’s survey yielded four distinct segments within their prospect pool: “brave and fearless,” “enthusiastic and confident,” “interested with reservations,” and “not happening.” See how many members of your organization fall into similar groups.
  3. Choose a focus. Concentrate promotional and marketing efforts towards the segment that comprises the most valuable slice of the prospect pool. For example, Google elected to direct its efforts toward getting the “interested with reservations” group onto the participation side of the fence, since about 60% of survey respondents fell into that category.
  4. Set up a challenge. Engage individuals and/or teams by creating friendly competitions to see who can tally the greatest number of trips and/or miles during the campaign. You can also divide into networks and groups to take advantage of team spirit. 
  5. Add incentives. Prizes for the individuals and/or teams that lead the pack can be advertised at the beginning of the campaign to provide an extra spark of motivation. 
  6. Start promoting. Keeping your focus segment in mind, use a full range of communication channels to put the word out about the incentivized bike to work campaign. By giving out some rewards early in the program you can increase the likelihood of winners sharing about your program.
  7. Evaluate the results. Using this recipe, Google got over 800 people on board with their challenge and racked up more than 15,000 bike trips. 

Learn more about Google’s bike-to-work program at the RideAmigos Academy: Beyond Bike to Work Day, How Google is Expanding TDM Programs Using RideAmigos

Our industry-leading RideAmigos commuter management software platform is the perfect backbone to create, promote, and administer bike to work campaigns, enabling a ripple-effect of long-lasting, positive impact on commuter behavior. It’s a fantastic tool, loaded with features that support route planning, bike- & carpool matching, challenges & incentives, community management, data analysis, and much more. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you transform transportation within your organization. 

Promoting Safe Riding for Urban Cyclists

These experts tips from experienced urban cyclists can help bike commuters stay safe.

Commuting by bike is a great way to get exercise and relieve traffic congestion, but safety should always come first. Here at RideAmigos, we’re big fans of increasing bicycle usage as part of a transportation demand management strategy.

During these summer months many organizations promote bicycling as a smart and healthy way to commute. As partners in a shared mission of transforming transportation, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips from experienced urban bike commuters to help keep your organization’s cyclists safe. Share and re-use widely!

  • Adopt “active scanning.” Always be aware of everything going on around you. Scan the road, as well as adjoining driveways and intersections. When you’re able to do so safely, take periodic glances behind you to see what’s approaching. Even better – invest in a mirror.
  • Be predictable. Don’t make sudden moves or swerve into traffic. If you’re scanning properly, you’ll react to obstacles like sewer grates and cracked pavement smoothly and well ahead of time.
  • Use your ears. As a cyclist, you’re more reliant on your hearing than you may realize. Never ride wearing headphones or earbuds.
  • Be defensive. Drivers are protected by thousands of pounds of steel and glass. You’re not. It won’t matter that you had the right-of-way if you get hit by a car. Don’t be aggressive; be cautious.
  • Eye contact is your friend. Making eye contact with turning drivers is the only way you can be sure they’ve seen you. If you’re not sure a motorist knows you’re there, slow down and be prepared to stop.
  • Be seen and heard. Bells, headlights, reflectors, and bright, reflective clothing are all helpful, especially if you’re going to be riding at night.
  • Control your speed. Maintain a suitable speed for road conditions; slow down in heavy traffic. You need to give yourself enough time to react to anything that might happen.

In addition, safe riding means staying alert at all times for potential hazards:

  • People emerging from parked cars. “Dooring,” as it’s known, can be very dangerous. Give yourself ample clearance when riding past parked vehicles, and keep your eyes open for people who may be about to step out of their cars and onto the street.
  • Turning vehicles. Many motorists are only looking for oncoming cars, and bikes can be hard to see in heavy traffic. Be extra careful when going through intersections.
  • Aggressive drivers. Unfortunately, some motorists drive as though the road belongs to them. Don’t pick a fight; avoid confrontations, especially needless ones.
  • Drivers in reverse. People backing out of driveways or into parking spots are more likely to be watching where they’re going than watching for oncoming bikes. Again, be extra defensive in these situations.

With support and experience, it becomes second-nature to navigate city streets by bike. Even so, bike commuters should never take safety for granted!

Riding with a group is another great way to improve your bicycle visibility, and by extension, safety. Like carpooling, bikepooling can also turn commuting into a social event. The RideAmigos platform is an ideal way to build a bikepooling network and promote bicycling as a viable form of commuting.

Help people skip the solo drive – contact RideAmigos today!

Using Pokémon Go to promote smart commuting

The Pokémon Go craze is sweeping the country like a tidal wave! This addictive game has already generated a massive following of die-hard players since its recent release. With ongoing international debuts, its popularity isn’t expected to slow.

How can those of us with an interest in encouraging smarter commuting use this huge trend as a way to lure more people to skip the solo drive?

Transit

Several municipalities are actively promoting Pokémon Go as part of their local public transit networks. L.A.’s Metropolitan Transit Authority has launched a Twitter account instructing players on the places they can go to catch Pokémon within their system. Other transit marketers and managers can follow their lead and promote playing while riding as a great way to “catch ‘em all” while also catching a ride to work.

Bike

Playing Pokémon Go while driving is never a good idea. Playing while biking can be promoted as a safer and healthier alternative. Using a smartphone securely mounted on a bike’s handlebars, a cyclist can see when Pokémon, PokéStops, or gyms are near. Riders can then easily detour off the street or bike path and out of harm’s way while they capture, battle, or train. Encouraging commuters to play Pokémon Go by bike might even inspire them to take the long way home, leading to more fun, more health benefits, and a higher likelihood they’ll bike to work in the future!

Rideshare

One of the best ways to promote smart commuting to players of Pokémon Go is through rideshare programs. Employees and neighbors can form a group with fellow Pokémon trainers, taking turns driving so everyone has a chance to play. They’ll have fun enjoying the wildly popular game, enhancing social and professional connections, and cutting down on traffic congestion.

If your business or organization is looking for tools to promote smarter, environmentally friendly commuting alternatives, our RideAmigos software platform offers a complete range of solutions. From public transit and biking to ridesharing and vanpooling, the RideAmigos platform delivers. Not only that, but we can even incorporate special Pokémon-related incentives or marketing!  To learn more, just contact us or sign up to check out our free, comprehensive demo video.

5 Best Benefits To Provide Commuters

Encourage employees to commute smarter by providing first-class benefits

Benefits and support programs are a great way to get employees and staff to ditch their single-occupancy vehicles and skip the solo drive. The best such programs all have one key thing in common: they remove the obstacles that prevent people from choosing alternative modes of transportation.

The RideAmigos team put our heads together and assembled this list of  five top-notch suggestions to help you create happier, healthier, more efficient commuters:

Guaranteed Rides Home

Some people balk at the idea of walking or biking to work because they’re worried about being stranded in the event of inclement weather. Guaranteed ride home programs provide a way around that problem. They ensure participants can get home safely and comfortably no matter what Mother Nature might throw their way.

Check out our blog post on guaranteed ride home programs for ideas and specifics.

Showers and storage

A lot of people don’t choose more active forms of transportation, like biking, because they don’t want to arrive at work hot and sweaty. Or they worry about where to keep their bicycle and personal items. Adding shower facilities, secure bike storage, and lockers for employee use is the perfect antidote.

Financial Incentives

Businesses and organizations can offer financial incentives to team members who make regular use of alternative transportation. Every time someone opts not to use a single-occupancy vehicle, they can rack up credits towards prizes like cash, gift cards, meals at local restaurants, event tickets, new bicycles … the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and budget!

Investments like this can also generate positive financial returns. A workforce that commutes by bike might qualify for lower health insurance premiums. Or, you could reduce your parking requirements. Which would, in turn, save money on leased lots. Or you could even generate additional revenue by renting out unused owned spaces to other tenants.

Free or Subsidized Transportation

Along the same lines, one of the leading reasons people stick with single-occupancy vehicles is that they’re worried about the costs of alternatives. Providing free or subsidized options can tip the scales and easily motivate change.

Try these ideas:

  • Provide free or subsidized public transit passes, tokens, or journey credits
  • Offer financial assistance for bike-share and car-share membership programs
  • Partner with ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft to offer door-to-door service from home to work

Benefits like these can be easily integrated alongside advanced trip tracking. Contact us to learn how.

Commute management software

Software like the RideAmigos platform puts powerful tools in the hands of commuters. Tools like comprehensive multi-modal trip planners, ridesharing, bikepooling, and automatic trip logging. We provide technological solutions that make it easy for employers to implement new benefits and easy for employees to make smarter transportation choices and skip the solo drive.

Sign up for our Commuter Tips email list for more smart commuting ideas and TDM strategies.

3 Impressive Executives Leading the Way to Smarter Commuting

Join these high-profile organizational leaders in inspiring people to change how they commute

Leading by example is one of the most effective ways to encourage organizational change. An increasing number of executives are doing exactly that when it comes to smarter commuting. Here’s a look at three people in leadership positions who are choosing enjoyable, environmentally friendly ways of getting to work:

Alan Elser
CFO, GM Nameplate

Despite a notoriously rainy climate, a growing number of Seattle commuters are choosing to bike to work throughout the year. Among them is Alan Elser, the chief financial officer of GM Nameplate, a leading supplier of custom-manufactured industrial goods
In 2013, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported that Elser bikes to work three times a week. The 24-mile journey between GM Nameplate’s Seattle headquarters and his May Valley-area home is undaunting for Elser. “Riding in in the morning is a great way to wake up and plan your day,” Elser said in an interview. “Riding home is a chance to decompress.”

Jennifer Welch
Managing Deputy Commissioner,
Chicago Department of Family and Support Services

She may have a much shorter commute than Elser, but Jennifer Welch bikes to work and back all year round, despite during Chicago’s notoriously cold and snowy winters. Her four-mile commute takes her from Logan Square toward the center of the city. Even when Chicago was hammered by the “Snowmaggedon” blizzard in the winter of 2011, Welch bundled up and biked to her job at the Department of Family and Support Services. Even more, her blizzard bike commute included a trip to the city’s 911 center to attend to a staffing emergency.

Christopher Eisgruber
President, Princeton University

The Princeton University president has emerged as a strong voice in the local call for better biking infrastructure. Traffic congestion makes cycling to Princeton’s campus challenging. But, thanks to a vocal advocacy campaign, the city of Princeton seems to be moving towards becoming more bike-friendly. Eisgruber says he cycles to work as often as possible, and hopes that the city will do its part to encourage others to join him.

RideAmigos salutes these and the many other business, education and government leaders who are leaving their cars behind more often. If you’re part of an organization that’s committed to helping commuters make smarter choices, be sure to check out our comprehensive TDM software toolkit. We deliver powerful solutions for ridesharing, trip planning, incentives, and data analysis.  Transforming how your organization commutes can have a major positive impact on your bottom line. Contact us to schedule your personal demonstration.

Tech Tools to Solve the Parking Crunch

Parking is a major cause of traffic congestion and urban air pollution. How can technology help?

It’s a problem that practically every city dweller is familiar with: reaching a destination, only to find there’s nowhere to park.

A recent research project compiled by University of California-Los Angeles professor Donald Shoup found that it can take the average driver up to 14 minutes to find a parking spot. As much as 74 percent of parking congestion in major urban centers results from drivers looking for parking.

Clearly, parking is a major contributor to urban traffic and pollution problems. In searching for solutions, individual drivers and municipalities, businesses, and universities can take advantage of new technological tools to make parking easier, faster and more efficient.    

A Great Start: Smarter Parking

Here are a few examples of the innovative, technology-driven strategies municipalities are using to help manage parking-related issues:

San Francisco – The SFPark system  is one of the most successful examples of dynamic, technology-based solutions to parking challenges. Interfacing directly with the city’s parking infrastructure, SFPark tracks availability in real time, alerting users to parking garages that have the greatest number of available spaces. Drivers can head straight to where the parking is, rather than wasting time and fuel searching for a spot.

Boston – In Boston’s south end, similar technology is in use. A new app, called the Parker, displays parking availability information in real time, and also delivers turn-by-turn directions to drivers.

Minnesota – A recent collaboration between the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies and MnDOT uses cameras to automatically detect parking available at truck stops. Real-time data is made available through the web, electronic road signs, and even in-cab messaging.

Sydney – The city of Sydney has developed its own unique take, designed for commuters who drive into the city for work. There, drivers can use an app developed by parking company Divvy to find vacant spaces available for rent in buildings. Commuters can save hundreds of dollars a month by renting a spot instead of paying for street parking, all while eliminating congestion.

Even Better: Reduce the Need

Making the most efficient use of available parking is an important step, but an even more effective route is reducing the need for parking by making it easier for people to carpool, bike, walk, or take public transit. To that end, here are some proven techniques organizations use to cut back on parking demand:

  • Colleges and universities can launch rideshare networks and vanpool services, or subsidize public transportation passes to get people using alternative modes. These campus parking solutions can save schools huge amounts of money by liberating them from the need to build onerous and expensive new parking facilities.
  • Businesses who own or lease their parking facilities can use innovative techniques to encourage employees to ditch the solo drive in favor of smart alternatives. Proven strategies to reduce enterprise parking costs include parking cash-out programs, earn-a-bike programs, and challenge and incentive programs that reward commuters for sharing rides, using transit, or adopting active commuting.
  • Government employers can use similar techniques to drive behavior change and scale down parking demand. Maximizing government parking is especially important, since public funds are used to cover operating costs.
  • Municipalities are moving toward strategies that make solo driving and parking less appealing from a cost perspective. Faced with more expensive parking and other tolls, many would-be solo motorists will make better use of available alternatives.

All of these programs and policies can be designed, promoted, refined, and administered with advanced software tools specifically designed for the transportation demand management market.

Manage Parking Needs with the RideAmigos Platform

Transportation demand management software like the RideAmigos platform offers powerful tools for managing parking assets and reducing parking demand. Our software can integrate with parking infrastructure in dynamic ways, and it can also help you create and manage programs that reduce or even eliminate the need for parking altogether. Through powerful trip planning tools and highly customizable incentive programs, our platform helps users take advantage of the many available alternatives to solo driving.

For more great content like this, sign up for our Commuter Tips emails.

Photo Credit: Steve Morgan

7 Ways NOT to Change Commuter Behavior

Getting people to think about commuting in new ways is an essential step towards bringing positive change to your community. The best way to solve problems like traffic congestion, parking availability, parking expenses and pollution is to get people using alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles. When this is done at an organizational level, the beneficial impact can be immense.

However, when it comes to creating change, some strategies work better than others. The RideAmigos team has decades of combined urban transportation management experience, and we’ve seen a lot of well-intentioned efforts fall flat:

  • Lack of incentive. Abstract notions of saving the environment or reducing company costs won’t drive change. Instead, give commuters something tangible to work toward.
  • Make participation difficult. If your alternative transportation program is confusing or difficult to use, people will likely revert to their original behaviors. Seek easy solutions!
  • One-off events and programs. Giving away a few gift cards or holding an annual Bike to Work Week might get some people to give alternatives a try, but these approaches by themselves aren’t likely to lead to lasting change. Ongoing support is a must.
  • Leading with a bad example. Is your business trying to encourage employees to rethink how they commute? Are the company’s executives and senior staff members doing it? If not, you shouldn’t expect success until the bosses start showing up in buses, bikes and carpools.
  • Ideas without tools. Even if people are open to changing their habits, it’s hard to do if you don’t provide them with tools. Sending out encouraging emails is a good start, but providing secure bike storage, free transit tokens and trip-finding or carpooling apps show you’re serious.
  • Guilt and shaming. Research has proven that making people feel guilty and ashamed of their actions is among the least effective ways to enact behavioral change.
  • Failing to consider context. Do most of your commuters drive more than 10 miles to work? If so, biking won’t be a popular option. Similarly, public transit won’t work if they’re not near a bus or subway line. Don’t focus on just one solution, and make sure what you’re selling makes sense.

If you’re looking to encourage commuters to make a long-term shift to community-friendly modes of transportation, we recommend that you avoid these strategies and seek out proven solutions. At RideAmigos, we know what works, what doesn’t, and why. Learn more about our approach to effective commuter engagement, and sign up for our newsletter for more great commuter tips!

Photo by @seawonkery

Top 4 Ways to Engage Commuters for Bike to Work Week

May is National Bike Month, and Bike to Work Week is right around the corner – May 16-20. Getting people excited about this event is a great way to help change how they think about commuting. Here are four creative ways to encourage greater levels of local participation:

Launch a Challenge

Tapping into the spirit of competition is one of the most powerful ways to engage people. Challenges give participants an added incentive to put forth their best effort, and few things are more rewarding than seeing hard work pay off in the standings.

Incentivize Bike to Work Week by making challenge winners eligible to claim prizes. See the clash of wills heat up as the race intensifies, all for a positive cause.

Organize a Bikepool Group

Organize a Bike to Work week cycling group to give those who feel safer riding with others a place to engage. Bikepools are ideal for experienced cyclists who want to share tips with newbies and for first-time or inexperienced riders who want to be part of a team.

Help your existing bike commuters to connect with their neighbors, form a group, and share the bike-to-work love!

Discover New and Interesting Routes

Bicycling is a great way to explore your city from a different perspective. Take a scenic path through a park or along a river. Follow a journey plan through a historic or artistic quarter. Find the best streets for biking.

Encourage Bike to Work Week participants to discover and share unique, little-known and interesting alternate routes to get to and from work.

Suggest Multimodal Options

People who have long commutes often feel like they can’t take part in Bike to Work Week. Suggesting ways to combine biking with other modes of transportation might change their mind.

More and more municipalities are working to make combining cycling with public transit a viable option for commuters. Buses and commuter trains are being outfitted with bike racks. Major stations and transit hubs offer secure, low-cost, or free on-site bicycle storage. Let your longer-distance commuters know about these possibilities so they can bike, too!

Try some of these ideas to engage your commuters during bike to work week and who knows – cycling might even become a habit!


For more great ideas from the RideAmigos team be sure to sign up for our Commuter Tips email newsletter.